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Wolves infected with a common parasite may be much more likely to become pack leaders

Still Waters

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Posted (IP: Staff) ·

A team of researchers with the Yellowstone Wolf Project at the Yellowstone Center for Resources, in Yellowstone National Park, in Wyoming, has found that wolves in the park who become infected with Toxoplasma gondii, a common parasite, are much more likely to become leaders of their pack. In their study, reported in the journal Communications Biology, the group analyzed data from studies of the wolves in the park over a 26-year period.

T. gondii is an obligate parasite that infects the protozoa in cells of infected animals. Such infections are known as toxoplasmosis, and they occur in almost all warm-blooded animals, including humans. Prior research has shown that in most cases, symptoms are few, through there is some evidence that suggests that they can lead to an increase in erratic or aggressive behavior.



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